No place for women in Cam-Clegg’s “new politics”

As David Cameron announces his final ministerial line-up, one must ask: Where are all the women?

As David Cameron announces his final ministerial line-up, I have found myself asking the same question as during the latter months of Gordon Brown’s premiership: Where are all the women? Not much more than a year ago, David Cameron had said:

“If elected, by the end of our first Parliament I want a third of all my ministers to be female.”

His four female cabinet ministers are a start, but only represent only 14 per cent of ministers allowed to attend cabinet, and their positions are lower than their male counterparts, with the exception of home secretary Theresa May. In recent elections, record numbers of women stood as parliamentary candidates: rising from 8% in 1979 to 21% in 2010. According to the Centre for Women and Equality:

• The Green Party had the highest percentage of women candidates (33%) followed by Labour (30%), the Conservative Party (24%) and the Liberal Democrats (21%).

• We now have 142 female MPs sitting in the commons.

• Women representing the main three parties include: 81 for the Labour Party (dropping from the 101 elected in 1997), 48 for the Conservative Party, and seven for the Liberal Democrats.

Throughout their election campaign, the Conservative Party offered us a binding contract for all sorts of manifesto commitments, saying:

“If we do not deliver on our side of the bargain, then vote us out in five years time.”

The contract calls for a closing of the gender pay gap (currently at 16.4%), family-friendly and flexible working policies, ending violence against women and an increase in the number of women in enterprise.

They also promised that:

A Conservative government would bring change to Britain’s corporate boardrooms, introducing new rules to increase the proportion of female directors, and creating new opportunities for women to rise to the top.

“We will require the long list for directorship appointments to include 50 per cent female candidates. This will help ensure that companies recruit from a diverse pool of candidates. It will apply to executive directors as well as non-executive directors.”

So with 55 women to choose from in this coalition government, David Cameron has chosen just four women to represent half of those living in the UK. With their promise of 50 per cent of candidates in FTSE 100 directorship positions to be female, it is a wonder why only four women sit in the cabinet: the directorship of the country?

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37 Responses to “No place for women in Cam-Clegg’s “new politics””

  1. Richard Frost

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  2. Jamie Khan

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  3. Sean Sayer

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  4. Andrea Walko

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  5. Duncan Wiles

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics"

  6. Erik W

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  7. Ell Aitch

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  8. Kevin Peel

    RT @leftfootfwd No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics": #ConDemNation

  9. Anarchia

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  10. Guido Fawkes

    How many women are running for Labour leader?

  11. Adam Whiley Cameron pledged to have 1/3 of his cabinet for women!!

  12. Stephen Phillips

    RT @leftfootfwd No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  13. PatrickKelley

    I have an idea. You could demand that Cameron appoint Cabinet Ministers according to the proportion of the population. Then you can also demand that he appoint an appropriate amount of Irish, Scots, etc. Don’t forget the Muslims. Maybe two or three percent of Cabinet Ministers need to be Islamic as well. Make sure though that at least one of them is a violent, firebrand jihadi who begins each Cabinet meeting with a demand that all the others convert to Islam, and ends it with a hearty cry of “Death To Britain”.

    Or you could just do the sensible thing, which would be appoint the most qualified individuals available who are willing to serve and who will work hard for the current government (recognizing of course this is basically a “Conservative” government) without regard to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or religion.

    By the way, you Brits still do allow religious beliefs other than Islam don’t you? Just curious. Please answer quickly, as I’m afraid it won’t be long before internet snark becomes an international hate crime, so your promptness in this regard would be most appreciated.

  14. Jo Jowers

    RT @leftfootfwd: No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics":

  15. gankon

    basically, for the sake of diversity, we need someone to run for the labour leadership who has a c*nt. harriet harman is overqualified, in that being married to jack dromey, she has 2.

  16. Sophia R. Matheson

    No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics" | Left Foot Forward: The Green Party had the highest percentage o…

  17. Where are all the women? « plurality. an alternative political and social thought.

    […] Read more of my article for Left Foot Forward here […]

  18. Raeki

    I think Carole Cadwalladr hit the nail on the head today in the Observer:

    If Cameron is happy to appoint George Osborne as Chancellor being ‘qualified for the job’ can’t be any sort of blocker to the women getting higher office. It really is just sexist crap.

  19. Jacquie Martin

    Many of us have noticed this lack of commitment. There have been articles in the Guardian and the Independent. Mumsnet are unhappy and feel duped, citing the only representation they’ve seen is Sam Cameron looking lovely in maternity wear and heels. Progress huh!

    This is particularly important as many of the expected economic measures to plug the deficit will impact more on women. We need a voice at the top table.

    I see a comment in these posts which basically trots out the old ‘meritocracy’ argument. I’ll say again: positive action makes up for lost opportunity as a result of past discrimination. We need it and now.

    Also, as far as this government goes, if ‘merit’ based on qualifications and experience are to be spouted again, then the only person who can fulfil the role is Ken Clarke. No-one else in this cabinet has had experience of governing the UK.

    Women make up 50% of the population – we are not a minority or splinter group. This constant battle of asking to be fairly and appropriately represented is unreasonable. I’m just sad we have to keep having the discussion.

    I suggest, Claire, you, me, and all the other women who feel the time has now come to be more vocal – in this spirit of new politics – band together and ensure that the argument comes up day after day.

  20. Denise Taylor

    No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics" | Left Foot Forward: As David Cameron announces his final ministe…

  21. Thomas Byrne

    Surely the onus is on you to say which women that we have that you would have appointed, and to which position?

  22. Simon Tinsley

    Once again, for an evidence-based blog you have failed to realise that the proportion of women in the cabinet is higher then in Labour’s last. It’s gone from 12% to 14%, yet I never saw the bleating about the lack of women in Brown’s cabinet.

  23. Will Straw

    Will Straw

    Simon – Er…Claire’s opening line mentions the lack of women in GB’s Cabinet…

    Patrick – your comment is well out of line and a complete mischaracterisation of Britain. I guess from your blog that you’re based in America. Good. Please stay there.

    Guido – None. And it’s a real pity since there are a number of talented women who should be going for it including, Yvette Cooper.

    Thomas – Decent point – what about Villiers? I’m unclear why Pickles was picked ahead of her. And what about Lynne Featherstone or Sarah Teather instead of Danny Alexander?

  24. Robert Fresno

    No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics" | Left Foot Forward: As David Cameron announces his final ministe…

  25. MasterPM

    No place for women in Cam-Clegg's "new politics" | Left Foot Forward

  26. Simon Tinsley

    Sure – I missed the first sentence, but my broad point still stands. Why make the whole article an attack on the Con-Lib coalition? He hasn’t reneged on any promise he made – he talks of wanting at least a third of ministers (note not cabinet ministers) to be women by the end of the term. Considering this blog declares itself fighting against ‘media manipulation’ before writing a whole article over how there are no women in the new cabinet, while glossing lightly over the fact that Brown had less.

    Why he set such an arbitrary quota I have no idea. He should merely pick people on merit, whatever gender, colour or creed they may be. We should not be bleating about the percentage of women in the cabinet.

    As it is, Villiers, Featherstone and Teather are all ministers. Alexander is in the cabinet as Scottish secretary – a position the Lib Dems were always going to get considering the Tories weak showing in Scotland, and Featherstone/Teather are both London based MPs, the position is really only viable to a Scottish MP. For the record, I disagree with Cheryl Gillan’s appointment as Welsh secretary in that she is not an MP for a constituency in Wales, yes.

  27. SadButMadLad

    Talking about tiny groups and assuming that they have to have the same proportions as a large group just don’t work. Bell curves and ratios come from studying such groups. Making the groups fit the curves and ratios is the wrong way round. Especially with small groups where changing the make up of one makes a huge difference in the percentages.

    If you want more women and minorities represented in the government start from the bottom. Work out why they aren’t entering politics. Positive selection doesn’t provide the answer because you want people who will represent their constituents and not because they fit the positive selection critera. Also, you want to keep the unrepresented coming into politics and you can’t always have positive selection. When you have worked out why, then you can work out the how – if necessary. Sometimes the answer might not be the one you are looking for. The how then gives the answer in encouraging the unrepresented group to get involved. Each group will have different requirements and needs. Also be prepared to take a long time. Society doesn’t change in an instant even though rolling 24/7 news seems to make people think it does. Society takes generations to change properly.

  28. Tory

    No justification for an argument against the lack of women in the newly appointed cabinet. We live in a meritocracy, not a society in which we fudge the natural order of things to bring about fixed and unnatural outcomes.

    Don’t forget, best Prime Minister we ever had was a lady, Maragaret Thatcher!

    Oh wait you guys don’t like her do you – then stop complaining or you might see another one

  29. Anon E Mouse

    Will – I have to take issue with your description of Yvette Cooper – talented at what? Frowning, looking earnest, nodding her head and going on and on and on…

    We don’t want Cooper, Balls, Harman or any other of those backward deceitful dinosaurs. There’s a new show in town and we need a Miliband….

  30. Elaine

    Almost every reputable study shows that women still have to be be super-qualified/over qualified in terms of formal qualifications and experience to get a senior job.
    On the other hand, the culture of ‘gentlemenly amateurism’ still has power: ‘A gentleman from Oxford or Cambridge can turn his hand to anything’ – eg George Osborne.

  31. Our obvious shame « Chrisjw133's Blog

    […] Posted by chrisjw133 on May 20, 2010 · Leave a Comment  Whilst I was at university studying politics it became obvious that amongst my classes there was a slight majority of female students as opposed to male. I don’t think many male students had any objection to this but it does strike an interesting point. If politics at university level attracts so many women, then why are so few women in parliament/high up in parliament? […]

  32. Mike Blakeney

    @clairee_french < Different Claire French?

  33. Leadership candidates in final plea for female vote | Left Foot Forward

    […] coalition cabinet – of which only 14% of positions are held by women, as Left Foot Forward reported in […]

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